I know the stove is hot, but it’s there. It’s right there. I’ve been burned before, but maybe this time will be different from the other scaldings. Maybe I deserve to feel the blistering of the scorching metal. If I just use one finger, this time, I’ll feel the heat without getting hurt too bad. I am lying to myself. I never could do things small. It’s always all or nothing. Why do the things that hurt look so enticing? Is pain really pleasure? For an instant of excitement, I am willing to give away weeks of mending and pain. The weeks aren’t pleasurable. I see the burning stove top and I know I am going to do what I shouldn’t. I can see it before it even happens. The question I always ask myself immediately afterwards, as that first layer of skin burns away, is why do I hurt myself every chance I get? Why do I seek pain for myself?
What is it about driving through the city lights that awakens the ghosts that had kept quiet for so long? You again sense their presence. There they sit in your passenger’s seat, in the forefront of your mind. It’s not really the person you knew anymore, but this hollow version of all that was good about them. You want to connect. You want to reach out and see if you can touch them, even though you know they aren’t really there. You want them to be real. You don’t want them to be this dissipating mist that fades when you try to catch it. You can’t cross over to their side. You’ll never return from The Land of the Used to Be. You must settle for the fleeting reminder that they were once there. You focus your eyes on the road and try to enjoy the empty outline of who you remember, you try, but it hurts too much. You end up two figures: one made of cells and things, the other out of cellophane, both looking on at the road before them. The two of you know it will be over soon and you can go back to keeping your ghosts tucked neatly away until the city lights conjure them up again.
Who are we? What defines us? How do we come to define ourselves? Is our definition in our background, our beliefs, our passions, our aesthetics? What is it about a person that makes them unique? I know we all are, but how do we get to be that way? I’m still trying to figure this out myself. I hope you can feed your minds with the sentiment as well.
“What is REAL?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day… “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
"Real isn’t how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It’s a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn’t happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.
"Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand… once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real
I have this problem. Whenever something happens in my life, anything out of the ordinary, I expect it to be like the movies I love. I know the differences between movies and real life, but a part of me hopes that the magic will somehow become airborne from the cellophane and influence the real world. However some hopes never get to be actualized. In my life, I am most always left in disappointment. It’s this ever turning vicious cycle. First, the excitement over the potential; second, the reality; and lastly a night staring at the ceiling reviewing how what actually happened paled in comparison to what I had imagined. My imagination gets me in trouble in that way. It dawned on me, what if all those events, all those evenings, all those moments that didn’t turn out to be extraordinary; actually were. A part of me is starting to believe that every day is extraordinary, even if it is simple. I’ve been missing it, all this time. I’ve been so focused on the dreamed up specifics in my head that I have been missing all the even better improvisations life has to offer. Maybe everything can be cinematic, you just have to change the way you watch the movie.
We all lead two lifes. One of met expectations and fantasties. The second of actuality, where expectations rarely come into fruition. This life is filled with acceptance of the disappointments. Acceptance and the hope that they won’t be so often.